Australia’s first Indigenous-owned whale-watching venture sets sail

Australia’s first Indigenous-owned whale-watching venture sets sail

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The whale-watching tours are one of the first of those projects to come on line and concepts have been tested for three years.

The tours are part of a $25 million suite of more than 20 projects to provide future jobs for Quandamooka people and future revenue for Minjerribah.

The new-look Quandamooka Country whale watching ferry which begins tours to Moreton Bay on July 6.Credit:Tony Moore

Whale-watching tour group Yalingbila Tours is a partnership between the Quandamooka people, cruise boat business SeaLink, Redland City Council and the Queensland government.

Every winter, humpback whales migrate past Minjerribah on their way north to warmer waters to breed.

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said she was very confident the whale-watching tours from Brisbane’s central business district to Moreton Bay would be successful.

“We are very, very proud supporters of what will be Australia’s very first, totally Aboriginal-owned whale-watching tour in our country,” Ms Jones said.

“This will open up Brisbane to the bay and Moreton Bay is the jewel in the crown when it comes to tourism in this part of the world.

“This is the land of Quandamooka people and we are so excited that QYAC [Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation] will be able to deliver this unique, authentic Aboriginal experience right here in the bay.”

QYAC chief executive Cameron Costello said Aboriginal guides would lead the tours and tell the stories of the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay.

“We will working with the Yuggerah (Brisbane) people to take people down the river to understand the river and then going out to the bay and learning about the connection of Aboriginal people and their culture to Yalingbila (the whales),” Mr Costello said.

“We will be talking about Yalingbila and what our efforts are around conservation, education and research around Yalingbila.”

Humpback whales which can be seen in Moreton Bay during whale season.

Humpback whales which can be seen in Moreton Bay during whale season.

The University of Queensland whale research station on North Stradbroke Island is part of the whale-watching tour partnership.

The Queensland government approved the whale-watching permit and provided a small business grant to help the business.

Brisbane deputy mayor Krista Adams described the opportunity as “fantastic for tourists” in the city.

“It’s all about having more to see and do in Brisbane for residents and for our visitors,” Cr Adams said.

“This is a fantastic way to connect Brisbane to the bay. It’s a whole-day experience out on the river, then out on beautiful Moreton Bay to see the whales.

“It is something that can’t be missed when you come to Brisbane.”

The tours will run four times a week from July 6, departing from two locations: the Brisbane River boat launch in front of the Wheel of Brisbane at South Bank and from Redlands’ Raby Bay.

Once established, the tour group is tipped to generate 25 jobs, $35 million in tourism revenue and lure 7000 tourists to Queensland each year.

Yalingbila Tours would vary outside whale-watching season to offer more cultural history and activities, Mr Costello said.

The boat, a new SeaLink Rocket catamaran, can take up to 120 people on the six-hour cruise out past Minjerribah and back.

The boat has been decorated in Quandamooka artwork with support from Redland City Council.

Mr Costello said the tours offered new opportunities for Quandamooka people.

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